ROCORI HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT SENATE
An important part of the structure of our school system involves leadership roles and positions for students. Across the district, students have opportunity to engage in a wide variety of leadership programs, but one that does not often get much “limelight” is the work of the Student Senate.
Different schools and systems provide different names for the organization. It is sometimes called, as we do, the Student Senate. In other places, it might be known as the Student Council. Some schools label the group as the Leadership Team or the Student Cabinet. Sometimes it is a Principal Advisory Council. Although it has different names at schools (both within the district and in other districts) the Student Senate is a leadership body within the school building.
The ROCORI High School Student Senate, as well as our other student organizations, has been very busy this school year! I would like to take a little bit of time to highlight the work of the High School Student Senate.
ANNUAL EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
The students involved in the Student Senate are active in setting a variety of events in motion. Throughout the course of a school year, the members of the Student Senate organize the events of homecoming week, helped organize and plan the Veterans’ Day program, plan the activities of Snow Week, set up an annual blood drive, participate in regional and state events, and engage in activities at the building.
Homecoming and Snow Week are busy times for the Senate. Usually the students set specific themes for each day of the week and encourage participation by the entire student body. In addition, there are usually special events or activities during the week as well. For homecoming, there is planning involved in the Variety Show, Powder Puff football and Iron-Man volleyball. During Snow Week, there are also theme days and this year featured a dodgeball tournament. Both weeks include a student dance.
The other annual events also require a great deal of planning. The blood drive involves much advance publicity, coordination in and out of the district, and considerable education for other students. The Veterans’ Day program involves many steps of organization including the selection of a keynote speaker, planning of the entire program, engagement of the band and choir, development of the student speakers and program hosts.
Over the past few years, the RHS Student Senate has also hosted a building wide pledge program or walk-a-thon to help raise funds. The Senate has developed a fund through its fundraising efforts that is used to support activities across the building. Other groups, organizations, classes, grade levels or programs may submit application to the Senate to receive financial support for their activities.
The Student Senate meets on a regular basis. Normally, the organization meets once a week and the meetings are typically before the school day. A significant amount of work or planning is undertaken by “committee” or smaller groups within the Senate.
In addition to the annual events, the Student Senate can become involved in special events or projects as they unfold. When we opened our new facility in 2011, for example, the students were involved in the building dedication and a variety of opening events.
This year, the RHS Senate hosted the regional Student Council conference. This involved bringing in many area schools and several hundred students for the day of the conference. The event was very well received.
SCHOOL BOARD REPRESENTATION
Several members of the Student Senate serve as “student representatives” to the School Board. As a district, we have a very long tradition of student representatives serving on the board. For many years, a single student was identified to serve, but over the last few years we have had a team of students serve on the school board.
For the 2014-15 school year, we have three students serving as Student Senate representatives for the board. Lisa Volkers, Alyssa Job and Anne Howard have been attending school board meetings throughout the year.
The members who serve as student representatives to the School Board have opportunity to share information with the board at each meeting. A specific agenda item is included, at least at the second meeting of the month, for a Student Senate report. Student representatives are often asked for their thoughts and opinions on issues—especially as they related to student experiences and decisions that will directly affect students.
Any students who serve as School Board representatives are eligible to apply for one of two annual scholarships given out by the Minnesota School Board Association during their senior year. The scholarship is valued at $3000. Although it is very competitive, only a limited number of school boards across the state engage students in this manner and so the number of potential recipients is fairly limited as well.
LEADERSHIP ROLE IN THE SCHOOL
Through all of the activities and events conducted by the Student Senate, the student members have great leadership opportunities. Students are chosen by their peers and serve as officers for their particular grade level.
Within the activities, each of the Senate members have opportunities to help with organization and planning. Students are specifically involved in presentations, opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas. They engage in roles and responsibilities to help improve the culture, environment, and conditions within the school. There are very unique skills, values and leadership opportunities extended to students in the roles in the Student Senate.
Although the students involved in the Senate usually don’t get their pictures in the paper, have their names in the box score, or receive much publicity, their roles and involvement make a significant difference in the school setting. They are very active in planning events and engaging in activities to celebrate special weeks, build a sense of community and help to build a positive school atmosphere. The Student Senate has taken a very active leadership role at the Senior High site and has already had a very busy school year!